NYC, New York]--The soda ban proposed by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was heard by the health board on Tuesday. Officials voted unanimously for the proposal to move forward for a final vote in September.
If passed then, the law will reportedly take effect March of 2013.
The city's health board heard arguments for and against the soda and other sugary drinks ban. Among those fighting the mayor are consumer advocates and the Restaurant Association. Speaking on the RA's behalf, official Andrew Moesel told ABC's local TV 7 before the hearing that the association planned on submitting their proposal which would make "a compelling case that we don't think that this is good for New Yorkers." He also added that the ban is a "slippery slope" which can open the door for more legislative control on consumers.
The ban, if implemented, would target restaurants, food carts, stadiums and theaters, who sold drinks 16 ounces and larger with less than 70 percent fruit juice. To make sure that the law is kept, establishments found selling the super-sized sugary drinks would be fined $200 per violation. Incidentally, this would make it a stiffer penalty than an ounce of marijuana. The fine for the marijuana is $100.00.
The mayor claims his ban is a step towards fighting obesity and diabetes, but critics have accused him of attempting to control his constituents through a nanny state.
Furthermore, what is to stop someone from ordering several of the smaller drinks? Speaking on his weekly radio show, Bloomberg said two weeks ago that he hoped the ban would deter someone from having to spend more to buy the two smaller drinks. To add to the many flaws in the proposal, grocery stores are exempt from the ban, so folks can just fill up at the grocer or corner 7-Eleven.
Which brings up another troubling aspect: Who would police restaurants and consumers? Will the mayor hire more cops to peer into the numerous restaurants around the five boroughs or would health officials who can't even inspect restaurants thoroughly now be charged with the duty of policing food establishments and hot dog stands? How much will that cost the city, which is already cash-strapped?
Though controversial, the ban has its supporters who rallied on the steps of City Hall on Tuesday. The city's Health Commissioner attended a National Soda Summit last week where he spoke out strongly in favor of the "big drinks ban," saying "people's health is on the line." Obesity is on the rise and health officials speaking at today's hearing hammered away at the fattening population and soda's contribution to this health concern.
On July 24, New York residents would get a chance to publicly give their opinions on the proposal, but do not get a vote on its final fate. That job goes to the Health Commissioner and other officials, all appointed by Mayor Bloomberg.
Critics are saying this is not a democracy and consumers' choice are being constitutionally trampled on.
Those in favor of the ban counter that the mayor was right to do something about our obesity and other health problems. Maybe they forgot the myriad of other foods stuffed with not only sugar but other deathly preservatives, additives, trans fat, MSG, hydrogenated oil, high corn fructose syrup and unhealthy secret ingredients. Just last week the major threw his support behind National Doughnut Day, and we all know what a model of healthy eating those sugary doughnuts can be, right?
Bloomberg has already banned smoking in city parks and beaches, on top of the existing ban from restaurants, office buildings, malls, stadiums, theaters, subways and just about anywhere except your home.
The mayor and his food police, the health department, have also banned direct food donations from residents to soup kitchens and pantries, citing the need to monitor the salt, fat and sugar content of foods given to the homeless and others needing help.
To read my earlier article on the soda ban, click link below.